The brilliant Melanie Lane’s new performance, Wonderwomen opens tonight in HAU1, with: the awesome pair of professional bodybuilders that are Rosie Harte and Natalie Schmidt; set and costume design by Robert Bartholot; music by Clark; lighting by Fabian Bleisch; and feministing up in your dramaturgy by Frances d’Ath (yup, the one who has this blog). It’s on the main stage, and looks deadly. Here’s some photos from dress rehearsal yesterday.
Yes! The one with the two women bodybuilders! In Berlin and on the main stage at HAU. Next week! And then back to Leipzig for you all down there. Here’s all the details:
Melanie Lane invites you to her new work Wonderwomen, at HAU1 Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin.
Wonderwomen invites the two female professional bodybuilders Rosie Harte and Nathalie Schmidt to meet in a performance context. They contemplate their highly demanding sport that amplifies and transforms the body. While striving for an ultimate physical form, the women navigate their profoundly trained bodies and the potential for a new body language. Wonderwomen is a dialogue that brings together strength and vulnerablility, representation and transformation, athleticism and femininity.
Concept and choreographie: Melanie Lane
Performance: Rosie Harte, Natalie Schmidt
Light design: Fabian Bleisch
Sound design: Clark
Set and costume design: Robert Bartholot
Dramaturgy: Frances d’Ath
Choreography Assistant: Florian Bücking
Mel asked me to come in and and be eyeballs / brain cells / dramaturg, or “Professional Audience” as I call it, with two pro women bodyduilders, Rosie Rascal Harte and Nathalie Schmidt. Who are both brilliant and beautiful performers, smart and thoughtful, and a joy to work with. Melanie totally scored with these two. In fact her whole team is quite awesome, with Clark on sound, and Bartold for stage design.
I’ve been wanting to write about Wonderwomen, Mel, Nathalie and Rosie, and have some time next week when I join them in Leipzig for the première. Rosie’s already written about her side of pre-show prep, as has Nathalie. In the meantime, here’s the details.
Festival Body Change Future
Melanie Lane (Berlin/Melbourne)
“I’ve made many good friends in bodybuilding, though there are few I’d trust to oil my back.” — Lee Labrada
Première: Thurs. 24th Nov. 20:00. LOFFT Leipzig
Season: Sat. 26th, Sun 27th Nov. LOFFT Leipzig
Further seasons: Wed. 14th Dec. Alte Feuerwache, tanz.tausch, Köln
April 2017. HAU Hebbel an Ufer, Berlin
Wonderwomen invites two female bodybuilders Rosie Harte and Nathalie Falk to meet in a performance context. Two women contemplate their highly demanding sport that amplifies and transforms the body. While striving for an ultimate physical form, the women navigate their highly trained bodies and the potential for a new physical language. A dialogue between strength and vulnerablility, representation and transformation, Wonderwomen is an attempt to re-discover, re-invent and re-claim the female body.
Concept & Choreography: Melanie Lane
Performance: Rosie Harte, Nathalie Schmidt
Light design: Fabian Bleisch
Sound design: Clark
Stage design: Robert Bartholot
Dramaturgy: Frances d’Ath
Artistic Assistance: Florian Bücking
Photos: Robert Bartholot
Sarah-Jane, or Satan-Jam, my meeting of whom last year I’ve described in eloquent, sweary detail (it’s all true, I swear! It’s why I blog, external memory storage an’ all), is in Melbourne. Right now! How privileged are you, Melbz? Get over your smug selves and get to Dancehouse this weekend, or Friday if you’re down with premières, before 17h — that’s 5pm to youse — for 2 hours of harrowment.
To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s 17h for the installation and 19h for the performance, and if both works are on each day, or … mainly because Dancehouse and Melb Fest websites are making my brain bleed. Probably best to camp out on Princes St from Thursday, just to be safe.
In all non-hyperbolic seriousness, I can’t speak highly enough of them. For the past year — when they’ve been in Berlin — I’ve had crucial, on-going discussions with them around identity, selfhood, making performance, representation (as well as epic slamming of telly series), racism, colonialism, diaspora (geographical and within one’s own body), Australia in all its ambivalence; also “What’s the best music for Mad Gainz, Frances?” “That’d be ’80s speed and death metal, crossover and thrash.” type conversations about training and physicality. Really some of the best convos I’ve had in years. (They also stepped up and were on the sharp pointy rivet of the Marina Abramovic racism a couple of months ago.)
So, as if it’s not obvious enough, Frances “Hostile To Everything” d’Ath (seriously, that’s what another awesome Australian said about me, “… in a good way though …”) is a huge fan of SJ. Go see them, say hi from me.
End of March, right when I’m throwing finally together my design portfolio (I swear I resisted, and now love having one), Emile asked if I might want to hurl together something for him. Something Web1.0, something like we’d handcode in HTML in the late-’90s, not quite something MySpace in the days of its browser-crashing gif-frenzy inferno, but definitely something that would be in its lineage; something tuner Nissan Skyline, unassuming on the surface, but all Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift when you pop the hood. Something Helvetica, Neo-Grotesk, what’s getting called Brutalist right now, though not traipsing behind a fashion; this is Emile and when I was looking through years of his work putting his new website together, he has a deep love and understanding of the aesthetic, and the art and philosophy underpinning it.
First things first:
Emile: I have two websites. Can we make them one?
Emile: Can we do all these other things?
Frances: OMG Yes!
Lucky I’d just done my portfolio, cos that gave me the framework to build on without having to bodge together fifty different functions and stuff. Saves a few hours there, which we made good use of in timezone-spanning conversations on typography, aesthetics, and usability.
First off, getting all those years of blog posts and work projects into a single database / website / organism. I used the hell out of interconnect/it’s Search & Replace DB script, merging, shuffling, shifting, getting rid of old code, jobs that would take a week or more to do by hand, done in seconds. We’d pretty much sorted out structure and functionality in a couple of afternoons; for a website that looks so simple, it was most of two weeks diligent work, back-and-forth conversations, picking away at details, (stripping and rebuilding, stancing, slamming, tuning … we are very good at turning all this into hoonage, especially with 24h Le Mans in the middle).
Obviously it had to be ‘Responsive’, look hella flush hectic antiseptic no matter what device, and for me (recently taking this stuff proper serious) it had to also be ‘Accessible’. I put those words in scare-quotes cos they’re kinda bullshit.
It occurred to me as I was finishing, that for a website to be neither responsive nor accessible — for example it looks crap if the screen size is too small or not ‘right’, or you can’t navigate with keyboard or screenreader — you have to actively remove this functionality. You have to break the website and override browser default behaviour. It’s a very active process to systematically remove basic functionality that’s been in web browsers since the beginning. You also have to actively not think, not empathise, intentionally not do or not know your job. Me for probably all of my earlier websites.
The funny thing is, it’s not really any additional work to make sure basic responsive and accessible design / functionality is present; the process of testing it always, always, always brings up usability issues, things I haven’t thought of, little points that become involved discussions about expectations, interactivity, culture, philosophy. Like ‘left and down’ is back in time, and ‘right and up’ forward; 下个礼拜 ／ 上个礼拜. Next week / last week. Yet the character for ‘next’ is xià, down, less than, lower; and ‘last’ (in the sense of ‘previous’) is shàng, up, more than, higher. So how to navigate between previous and next posts or projects turns into an open-ended contextual exchange on meaning.
And ‘responsive’, ‘accessible’? Basic, fundamental web design. Not something tacked on at the end.
Back to the design. System fonts! Something I’ve not done in years, being all web-font focussed these days. Another trip through the wombat warren of devices, operating systems, CSS declarations. It’s crazy impressive how deep people go in exploring this stuff. Emile Blue! A bit like International Klein Blue, and a bit like Web / HTM 4.01 Blue. But not! We worked this in with a very dark grey and very slightly off-white, bringing in and throwing out additional colours, and managing in the end to sort out all the interaction visual feedback though combinations of these three — like the white text on blue background for blockquotes. Super nice.
As usual, mad props to DreamHost for I dunno how many years of hosting (it was Emile who said to me, “Frances. Use DreamHost.”), WordPress for running Emile’s old and new sites (and all of mine), and Let’s Encrypt for awesome and free HTTPS. And to Emile for giving me the pleasure of making the website of one of my favourite artist.
Emile’s new website is here: https://emilezile.com
And another performance. You’re not in Moscow for Isabelle; you’re in Collingwood for Emile Zile and Desktops! Part of the Mining the Cloud: a series of desktop documentaries performances put on by Interval Projects.
Disembodied voices. Home Altar eternally altered. You wont believe what happens next.
Building on the recent body of work Desktops, Emile Zile’s performance creates narratives from computer screen captures, search term collages and algorithmic portraiture to explore human mediated communication and the circulation of digital images.
Some months already since the pan-hemisphere rehearsals of Daniel Schlusser’s Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I’ve been sitting on these photos for a while, and as spring lurches across Berlin – as well as some imminent Dasniya and I shibari adventures to be announced – decided if I don’t get them up here now, it will enter the region of unlikelihood. I think all photos are from Daisy Noyes (not sure about the first one, but assuming yes).
Rehearsals via Skype between Berlin and Melbourne as the sun rose in mid-summer. More talking and writing and videoing back and forth in the last months, and suddenly it arrives.
Daniel Schlusser’s new performance, a co-production with Chamber Made Opera and Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye, for which I somehow contributed Japanese rope bondage, is premiering as I write this, half a world away. Really wish I was there.
You can see it over the next three days …
Sounds of an army massing, or is it trumpets…or thunder? Then a chorus of angels…
O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
OPHELIA DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Thursday 24 November 2011 at 9pm
Friday 25 November 2011 at 9pm
Saturday 26 November 2011 at 9pm
At a Private Living Room in Armadale
Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore reveals the story of Ophelia as a monomaniacal botanist – wilful, unpredictable and in love with a self-harming sociopath.
Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore is a cross-artform opera, a collaboration between Daniel Schlusser, composer Darrin Verhagen, video artist Richard Grant and choreographer Frances d’Ath,
with design by Marg Horwell. Performed by Daniel Schlusser, Lily Paskas
and Karen Sibbing in the role of Ophelia, the project will bring together text from Hamlet,
video, physical extremes and Verhagen’s dark combination of music and Noise to create
a new chamber opera performance installation.
Some time in Vienna last year, Daniel Schlusser came to visit and we made some trial rehearsals with ropes and Theraband bondage. Over the course of the last year, besides theatre, we talked about a website, and a couple of weeks ago, (with delay caused by lead paint) it sprung miraculously, fully-formed, to life.
In-between there was much coding and designing, learning of typography and how to edit and create typefaces, little reworkings, bigger reworkings … Daniel spent the previous six weeks of so sorting images, text, and other things, and the site went from being this familiar thing I’d looked at for so long into what it was intended to be — his. So, I’m very happy to for Daniel’s site to be alive.
You can find him at danielschlusser.com.
In the graben between late night and early morning, while scrabbling small amendments for something of Daniel Schlusser’s I hope I’ll be announcing around Monday, I received an email from him. How two months has passed without my awareness …
Early August, I was rising at an hour that was both refreshing and bleary, to rehearse with him and others via Skype to the opposite end of the world. They in Melbourne, me here in Berlin, teaching rope bondage, suspension, shibari, through a small portal I felt I could quite possibly slide through if I approached it right.
After these mornings, I would find myself alone with the convenient ring hanging from the ceiling, making demonstration videos, messing with my ideas and trying to convey them to Lily, wondering if any sense could be made; if this way of trying to make performance had any substance to it.
The video I found this morning … ah, what to say? Daniel is a theatre director I like very much, and I’m very happy to be working with him on Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore. The videois beautiful.